‘Justice Matters’: The Aesthetics and Counter-Aesthetics of International Law

The first workshop on the theme of aesthetics and counter-aesthetics of law, held at the University of Liverpool on 28 and 29 April 2016, brought together academics, legal practitioners, artists, documentary-makers and journalists interested in questions of aesthetics and international law and justice (see programme here). The workshop was organised around the International Criminal Court’s traveling photography exhibition titled ‘Justice Matters’ which will was exhibited at the University (see PDFs here). A critical reflection of the exhibition was used as an entry point into thinking more broadly about the aesthetics of law, i.e. law’s space, law’s language, law’s signs.

Justice Matters
The ICC’s ‘Justice Matters’ exhibition at the University of Liverpool

Questions discussed included:

  • How are the victims of international crimes portrayed in the exhibition?
  • Does a picture really paint a thousand words?
  • What is the role of international organisations in institutionalising images and associations with ‘justice’?
  • Is the ICC using pictures to inform about its activities or also to market a punitive international criminal justice system?

Also discussed were questions related to the possibility and potential content of a counter-aesthetic of international law, including:

  • What would a counter-aesthetic of justice include?
  • Would it be one of farce and satire as is the case in joke charity appeals?
  • Would it be a form of détournement as imagined by the Situationist International
  • How can images avoid stereotyping and instead inspire reflexiveness?


  • Christine Schwöbel-Patel, University of Liverpool (organizer)
  • Rob Knox, University of Liverpool (organizer)
  • Alex Batesmith, University of Liverpool
  • Sean Columb, University of Liverpool
  • Thierry Cruvellier, Journalist and author
  • Jo Frank, Poet and Publisher
  • Alma Itzhaky, Artist and academic
  • Wayne Jordash, Barrister and consultant
  • Tor Krever, LSE, visiting fellow Coimbra
  • Padraig McAuliffe, University of Liverpool
  • Diana Sankey, Liverpool John Moores University
  • Gerry Simpson, LSE
  • Sofia Stolk, VU Amsterdam
  • Immi Tallgren, University of Helsinki
  • Anastasia Tataryn, University of Liverpool
  • Klaartje Quirijns, Filmmaker
  • Terry Duffy, Artist
  • Anne Neylon, University of Liverpool
  • Randle DeFalco, University of Toronto